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Mutuals

Co-ops are one type of mutual. Mutuals have taken many forms in the past with finance as a particularly important sector. More recently they have become significant in utilities, with Welsh Water as a large and successful example, as well as in football, where there are now 15 soccer or rugby clubs under the ownership or control of supporters trusts, with a further 95 supporters trusts having shareholdings in their clubs. There has also been a growth of ‘New Mutualism’, which has been promoted, with government support, as a way of democratising public services. There are now 125 NHS Foundation Trusts that have been established as multi-stakeholder mutuals; GPs have organised mutuals to provide out of hours primary care; there has been a growth of publicly funded childcare co-ops as well as leisure trusts and social enterprises running public leisure facilities. There are now 109 such leisure mutuals with an annual turnover of £640 million. In education, there has been a parallel development of co-operative foundation schools. Already 15 co-operative trusts covering 25 schools have been established, with discussions under way with a further 60 schools. As of 2009, there are 23 million members of mutuals in the UK, ranging from the long established retail and financial co-ops, friendly societies, insurers, building societies, and housing associations, to the new mutuals and community trusts that have grown so markedly over the last decade.